Technology and MCM Panel Systems - Part 2:
Use of AutoCAD for Approval Drawings
When our firm started in the metal composite material (MCM)
panel industry back in 1989 the conventional method was to create
approval drawings with paper and pencil on an actual drawing board,
and if you had the very best equipment available you had a
90-degree "drawing machine" rather than a parallel bar or
The draftsmen that were particularly proficient for this type of
drawing were an interesting blend of craftsman, knowledgeable
builder and artist. In order for their drawings to be the best
method to convey the information, they needed to have a "good hand"
that portrayed a drawing style that was very readable and had a
consistent style from sheet to sheet.
When the information on the approval drawings was presented in
an easy-to-read format it gave the person reviewing the drawings a
feeling of confidence in the drawings, and by extension, a feeling
of confidence in the company that produced the drawings and the
materials that would eventually be supplied.
However, this method of drawing preparation took a great deal of
time and many "off the board" calculations to determine necessary
dimensions that needed to be placed on the drawings. With the
advent of AutoCAD, and other computer- aided drawing programs,
several things changed:
• A person that did not have a "good hand" for drawing could
still produce a very readable set of drawings that had a consistent
style of line width, density and consistent font type for labels
from sheet to sheet because the computer was reproducing these
important elements consistently.
• The computer-aided drawing program had many tools that could
expedite the production of drawings. For example, circles, arcs,
rectangles and other shapes could be created simply with tools.
They could be expanded and contracted by dragging the shapes, and
the resulting dimensions could be calculated by the program.
• Once the basic floor or roof plan was created, multiple copies
of the original could be saved and re-used for other floors without
having to re-draw the basic shape.
Subsequent developments have allowed drawing technicians to
produce virtual representations of buildings in 3-D. With these
drawings, intersections between materials can be studied and better
solutions can become obvious when you see a graphic 3-D
representation of material intersections.
There are also programs available now that can "pick" the
machined shape of a panel from the 3-D approval drawings. These
elements can then become the virtual part drawing that can be
downloaded to the computer-controlled machining center.
There is no software available yet that can take the place of
industry experience on how the building components should go
together on a project. However, in the hands of an experienced
industry professional, computer-aided drawing programs can
certainly expand the capacity of that professional to produce great
approval drawings for MCM panels. And this technology allows for
the use of very complex shapes of panels as well.
As we explore these benefits, please feel free to drop me an
email at ted.miller@millerclapperton. com to remind me of
Ted S. Miller is the CEO of The Miller
Clapperton Partnership Inc., Austell, Ga. For more information,